Newsletters

Newsletter Fall 2012

Crosby Fund for Haitian Education

Fall 2012

Primary School Scholarship Program Begins

This fall we begin a primary school scholarship program made possible through a generous donation designated for this important initiative.  When we began our program eight years ago, we supported secondary scholarships only for grades seven through Philo (a 13th year for college preparation).  At the time there was a primary scholarship program for kindergarten through 6th grade, therefore, we offered scholarships for the older children. Yet several years ago, the primary scholarship program ceased to function and since then there has been a great need for primary school support.  Many parents in the last few years have asked for assistance to help place their young children in school, and we noticed an ever growing multitude of children not being educated. Our hope and long-term goal was to eventually launch such a program but our funds were limited.

After our visit in June, we arrived home and there was the most exciting message waiting for us on our answering machine.  A woman, very familiar with the area where we work, had recently returned from a visit.  She was surprised and dismayed by all the young children unable to attend school, and she wanted to help with the effort. She gave us a 5- year gift to initiate such a program. Through her generosity, we are able to support 167 children, who attend 34 different schools in a ten mile area. We hired a part-time teacher, Kettelie Petite-Lou Jules, to help us administer the program. She is a Pre-K/K teacher in the area and has been a member of our Board of Advisors since our beginning in 2003. Kettelie has great knowledge of the schools in the area and will be assisted by our Program Manager, Melet DeRose and our two other employees, Franck Cidort and J. Edner Raphael.

Selecting the students was a real challenge because of the extreme poverty in the surrounding towns.  Almost every family needs help.  Our Haitian Board of Advisors, all living in the area, decided to enlist our university students, who were home this summer on break. The studentsgathered local knowledge in the area where they live and visited some families. Our staff conducted the same research. Nominations for scholarship came back to the board for a vote. I know that we left many children behind, but this is a beginning. Our hope is through the years we will be able to expand the program.

 

The primary scholarship program will cover tuition, books and needed materials and a uniform. The average cost per child is about $125 each per year.  This doesn’t seem like much to us, but for a family that makes less than $750 a year this is an expense that is unbearable.  The Haitian government has plans in place to provide free education for all primary students, but this plan will take years to accomplish, especially in the rural area where we work.  The children cannot wait for such a program, and we are deeply grateful for this gift and thrilled to begin this program!

 

Secondary Program:  Grades 7 – 13  (Philo year)

This year we offered scholarships to 122 students at the secondary level.  These students live within a 20 mile radius of Deschapelles, where our office is located in the Artibonite Valley.  They attend 28 different high schools usually within a 4 miles radius from their house.  The schools in the country are very primitive in structure and the class rooms are sometimes dark and crowded.  Many schools do not have electricity or plumbing.  We visited a new primary and secondary school in Verrettes named the Peleican School (see below) and the conditions were really quite good – decent desks, electricity run by a generator, and smaller class size. This school, however, was twice as expensive as the other schools.  We have two students placed here, but we are unable to transfer more. We will observe over the next few years to see if these students excel beyond the others.  Stay tuned!

 

Twenty-three students finished 12th grade (Rheto) this year, and nine of them passed the state Rheto exam and will move on to the Philo year, which is a one-year college preparatory program. If they pass the State Philo exam at the end of the year, they are eligible to attend the universities in Port-au-Prince (there are several good choices).  Entrance in to the Philo program and passing the Philo exam is very difficult, and we are proud to say that we have 7 successful graduates of the Philo, who will receive our scholarships for university study.  Three are female and four are male. To date we have had the good fortune to be able to fund 35 students towards their bachelor’s degree.  This is an ever increasing challenge as university tuitions and housing expenses increase.

 

A Visit to the Institute Mixte Joseph C. Bernard (Peleican) in Verrettes.

L-R, Melet DeRose, CFHE Program Manager, Michelle Griswold (Board Member)

School Principal, Woodson Cerfrere (CFHE student), Landa Bien-Aime (CFHE student)

 Becky Crosby  (Executive Director/Co-Founder) Tom Sherer (Board Member)

Andrew Sherer  and Vaudy Jean-Baptiste (CFHE Program Director) – photo, Ted Crosby

  University Program

We have 7 university students who will graduate from university this fall (typical season for graduations).  Kettie Dorilon, Robens Occean, and Jean Mendel Mesidor with degrees in Business Management from the Universitaire Notre Dame d’Haiti; David Vilma in Accounting from the Institute Universitaire Quisqueya; Pierre Hervey in Computer Science from the Ecole Superieur d’Infotronics d’Haiti; Alphonse Ducasse in Education from St. Ignace; and Pierre Eustache in Management from the Institute Superieur Technique d’ Haiti.  Of the three that have graduated already, Pierre Hervey has found employment at the University Quisqueya, and Kettie Dorilon and David Vilma are actively seeking employment.  We wish them well!

 

Hélène Clervius and Delicier Dieuseul graduated last June in medicine, and they have served as interns this year at the state hospital, Hôpital Justinien in Cap Haitian.  They will finish in October and pursue their careers as doctors.  Hélène received a scholarship last summer to study neurology at the Hôpital Nord in Amien, France.  She is in hopes of pursuing a specialty in neurology in Switzerland through a scholarship. Her plan is to return and be one of the few Haitian neurologists working in Haiti.

 

We believe the University program is critical for the success of our students and to build an educated and qualified group of young people to fill leadership positions in their country.  We have all watched Haiti suffer over the years through lack of leadership, infrastructure and abject poverty.  This destitute situation will never improve without a universal education system for grades K-13.  Lack of public education is the reason 55% of the Haitian people are illiterate and only 15% graduate from high school.  2% of those high school graduates enter the university programs. Many of the leadership roles in Haiti are filled with internationals and that needs to change in order for the country to grow and become more independent and self- sustainable.  We believe education is the answer, and we hope you will consider supporting our university program.

 

In Their Own Words …..

 

We will be featuring some of our university students on our website.  Each profile will offer a picture and a little bit about their lives and program of studies.  Please check out our website, www. crosbyfund.org.   Here is an excerpt from Inozile Jean Wisguens:

 

My name is Inozile Jean Wisguen. I was born May 20, 1983 in Verrettes. I have been a Crosby scholarship recipient since the twelfth grade (Rheto) class, and I now attend a university called Quisqueya University. I am in my third year in the Sciences of Agriculture and Environment, and I will graduate next year.  My favorite classes are geology and ecology.  After finishing my academic studies, I would like to work in the environmental sector.  I could take a training course from the ministry of the environment and learn how to improve my community. My plan after graduating is to focus on one of the following subject matters: ecology, geology, land management, risk and disaster management, or water purification.

 

I must say that the Crosby program has helped me a lot and has changed my life completely. I didn’t imagine I would ever complete my academic studies, because I didn’t have anybody who could help me do so. The Crosby program is a gift from heaven. Five years ago, I was not the same person I am today. The Crosby program has made of me a person of great knowledge. I can’t stop saying a big “thank you” to the people who have sacrificed themselves to make this program what it is today. Through my studies, I have learned a lot of things that I didn’t know before. The Crosby program has changed my life through the good will of people who have dedicated enormous effort to help us pursue our academic studies. I will be able to use the knowledge I gained in the Crosby program in my future work, so that I can help my community and improve the environment. Haiti needs good environmentalists who can help with the reconstruction of the country. A big thanks to everyone who has helped us in one way or another!

 

 

 

Sponsoring a University Student

 

We have 30 university students, and we try to find individual sponsorship for each student – donors who are willing to provide full or partial support (tuition only) at the university level. See the chart below that gives the range of university expenses.  We have 12 students in need of sponsorship. If you are interested in sponsoring a student, please contact us, and we would be happy to tell you more about the program and help you  select the student, if you wish.  We offer our deepest gratitude to all of our generous donors who support our university scholarship program.

Annual University Student Expenses

Tuition and Fees

$1000-$1850

Books

$500

Housing

$750-$1000

Food

$900 – $1500

($3 to $5 per day for 10 months)

Transportation

$250

Total Range

$3400 – $5000

 

Technical Student Expenses

Tuition and Fees

$350 – $500

Annual Secondary Student Expenses

Tuition and Fees

$200-$300

Books

$65

Uniforms

$50

Total Range

$315 -415

 

Primary Student Expenses

Tuition and Fees

$75 -$100

Uniforms

$35

Books

$25

Total Range

$135-160

If you are interested in making a donation to support a student please make checks payable to Crosby Fund for Haitian Education and send it to 19 Binney Road, Old Lyme, CT 06371.  You may also make a gift through our website www.crosbyfund.org through PayPal®.  All gifts are fully tax-deductible and 100% of your gift goes directly to Haiti in support of our programs.

Technical School Program

Our technical school program was initiated three years ago.  We created it for students who completed high school but did not attend or pass the Philo exam (a 13th year program required for university study).  This year we offered scholarships to 17 students and 7 will graduate this fall.  The technical scholarships offer our students the opportunity to learn a practical job skill to better enable them for employment. The scholarships cover a variety of studies from construction and plumbing to medical technicians and administrative assistants.  Currently we have over 30 students on a scholarship waiting list.  Generally a technical school scholarship is in the range of $350-500 a year and most programs are one to two years in length (see above).

 

Annual Budget

Our annual budget this is $220,000.  The following pie charts show our income and expenditures. The salaries represent our Haitian employees.  There are no paid salaries in the United States, and expenditures in the U.S. represent only 3% of the budget and are funded privately. The Crosby Fund for Haitian Education is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. All contributions are fully tax deductible to the extent provided by law.

 

Newsletter Fall 2011

 

 

University Program: Success In The Midst of Chaos

Last year at this time we were in the process of getting our twenty-six university students back to school.  This was a monumental task, because eleven of the fifteen universities in Haiti had collapsed or were structurally damaged.  This affected twenty-four of our students’ programs of study.  We are pleased to report that as of January 2011, all of our students are back to school.  Some were transferred to different universities and some have stayed at the same university but must endure makeshift classrooms or large tent structures while the university rebuilds.  Vaudy Jean Baptiste, our new Program Director, deserves a great deal of credit for the re-placement of our students.

University tuition has increased and so have student housing costs.  Since the earthquake housing in Port-au-Prince is in demand, making it difficult for students.  Some of our students were living in unsafe tent cities, and others were living in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, making a two–hour to four-hour daily commute to and from their university.  Vaudy has assisted in finding better rooms, but we are still faced with the challenge of boarding our university students.  The average room costs about $1,000 a year, more than double since the earthquake.

Thanks to a wonderful gift received last year, we are able to continue to provide our students with support for their food expenses for the next few years.  We are so grateful for this support and have noticed during our last visit that our students are looking healthier!  Living in Port-au-Prince, even before the earthquake, is extremely challenging. All of our university students are from very poor families in the Artibonite Valley, and their families cannot support them in the city.  Students arriving in the city for the first time are overwhelmed with the challenges of living.  Understanding this difficulty, our older students have created a network of “Crosby Students” who meet periodically and serve as a support group for each other.  With all of these challenges, we are happy to report that three of our university students graduated this past spring: Hélène Clervius in medicine, Delicier Dieuseul, in medicine, and Dianie Ezekiel in secretary/business studies.

Dianie Ezekiel

  Dianie entered the Crosby Fund program in 2005 at the age of 16 as a junior in high school.  She came from a farming family of seven and was not able to complete her high school education.  Through the Crosby Fund, she completed her Philo year in 2008 and entered the Business Institute of the West Indies in Port-au-Prince for a two year program to become a business secretary.  The earthquake disrupted her studies for one year, but we are pleased to report that she graduated in June and is looking for a company where she can serve as an intern.  Dianie’s scholarship was provided through support from Becky and Ted Crosby.

 

Hélène Clervius

Hélène has been in the Crosby Fund program since the beginning in 2004.  She was 21 years old with only one year left to complete high school. We knew from the beginning that Hélène was a very gifted student with a strong determination to be successful in her life.  She was born in the mountains above Deschapelles, where education is very limited.  At a young age, she moved to Deschapelles and lived with relatives so she could go to school, but soon she had no possibility to complete her education.  Through the Crosby Fund, Hélène graduated from high school and went on to Quisqueya University where she majored in medicine.  During the earthquake, Hélène used her medical skills to assist in emergency care to people living around the university.  Quisqueya University collapsed and her final year was a difficult one.  Yet in the midst of this trauma, she graduated at the top of her class and was awarded a scholarship to study neurology over the summer at Hôpital Nord in Amien, Paris.  She then visited another hospital in Switzerland for two weeks.  She has now returned to Haiti to begin her one -year internship at the state hospital, Hôpital Justinien, in Cap Haitian.  The Crosby Fund will assist her with her room and board and medical supplies.  Hélène hopes to continue to study neurology after her internship. There is no program in Haiti that offers this specialty, and she is looking for a post- graduate program in the United States.  Hélène’s scholarship was provided through a gift from the late Alice Powers.

 

Delicier Dieuseul

Like Hélène, Delicier has been in the Crosby program since 2004.  His mother was the sole provider for 4 children, and she did not earn enough money from her little grocery stand to pay for his tuition.  He entered our program at the age of 22, needing only to complete his Philo year of high school (the 13th year).  He had the highest grade point average of all of our students and was admitted into the medical program at the University of Notre Dame in Port-au-Prince.  We interviewed Delicier several years ago to better understand the difficulties of some of our students living in Port-au-Prince. He talked about the challenges of his inadequate secondary education, and how the students from the city are better educated and equipped to study than those from the country.  Unlike our students from the country, the city students have a family network within the city and generally a place to stay.  For the first two years he really struggled to keep up with his studies, and there was no tutoring help, so he worked even harder, studying day and night sometimes by flashlight.  Delicier said that after three years there was no difference between him and the students who were raised in the city. He also shared with us the challenges of living in the city and the long and very frustrating commute to school.  Delicier will join Hélène for a one-year internship at the state hospital, Hôpital Justinien, in Cap Haitian. Delicier’s scholarship was provided through support from John and Heidi Niblack.

 

Sponsoring a University Student

We try to find sponsorship for each of our university students – donors

who are willing to provide $2,500 or more a year to pay for the tuition

and books for one student.  Donors may wish to provide transportation,

housing and food as well.  We have 9 students who need a sponsor.

If you are interested in sponsoring a student, please contact us, and we

would be happy to tell you more about the program, and help you select

the student.  We give thanks to all of our special donors for their generous

support of our university program.

 

Annual University Student Expenses

Tuition and Fees

$1800-$2000

Books

$500-$750

Transportation

$250-$300

Housing

$750-$1000

Food

$900-$1500

($3 to $5 a day for 10 months)

 Total Range

$4200 to $5,500

 

Laptops Needed

We are always in need of laptops for our university students.  If you have

a laptop with Windows 7 already installed and 1 gigabyte of memory we

would very much appreciate this gift. If you are interested in purchasing a

laptop for a student, we can generally buy them for under $400!

 

Technical School Program

Our technical program was created for students who completed high school and passed their Rheto exam (12th grade), but did not pass the Philo exam (a 13th year program required for university study).  This year we offered scholarships to 11 students, and 2 graduated from our program: Verna Cledomin and Ednige Vameus.  Both Verna and Ednige studied to be physical therapy technicians at the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer in Deschapelles.  Since graduating, the hospital has hired Verna and Ednige to work in their outlying dispensaries.  The technical program offers practical job skills for young people to better enable them for employment. We have 23 former Crosby students on a waiting list in hopes of having the opportunity to continue their education in our technical school program. This fall, we will select 8 of the 23 students for this program.  Generally a technical school scholarship is in the range of $500 a year and most programs are one to two years in length.

 

  New Agronomy Students

Secondary Program   (grades 7 – 12)

Our secondary program is the largest program in our organization with 120 students.  These students all live within a twenty mile radius of Deschapelles, where our office is located in the Artibonite Valley.  These 120 students attend 28 different high schools within a 4 mile radius from their house.  The schools in the country are very primitive in structure and the class rooms are dark and crowded.  Many schools do not have electricity or plumbing.  These conditions make it very challenging for students to excel, especially when you consider the lack of food and water and the extreme heat (generally over 90 degrees a day).  We require that all students maintain a 60 average to stay in the program.  We offer a tutoring program to help students who fall behind.  Since the earthquake, the classrooms have become more crowded due to the migration of families from Port-au-Prince.  Tuition has risen in some schools over 30% due to the economic crisis since the earthquake and the challenge of finding good teachers to work in the school systems.  The Crosby Fund provides full tuition support, books and a uniform for each student.  The average secondary scholarship is in the range of $325 a year ($200 for tuition, $75 for books, and $50 for a uniform).

 

 

Old Lyme Youth Helping the Youth of Haiti

Andrew Sherer, a senior at Xavier High School, for his senior service requirement, has volunteered to create Haitian geographic educational materials to be distributed through the Crosby Fund.  His goal is to help provide Haitian students with laminated maps and graphs that focus specifically on Haiti.  In November 2011, Andrew will take a trip to Haiti to talk with school administrators about his project. Through the Crosby Fund, Andrew hopes to coordinate with Haitian teachers and students to tailor the materials to their specific needs.  When the materials are completed, Andrew plans to produce laminated copies needed and distribute them to Haitian schools through the Crosby Fund.

 Our New Program Director

In July 2011, we promoted Vaudy Jean Baptiste to the new position of Program Director to oversee and direct all of the Crosby Fund programs in Haiti: the secondary and technical programs in the Artibonite Valley and the university program in Port-au-Prince.  Prior to this appointment, Vaudy was responsible for the university program.  Melet DeRose will continue to be the Program Administrator of the secondary and technical program under Vaudy’s direction.

Vaudy and his wife Zulta in Port au Prince

Kettelie Petit Loute Jules, Secretary

Annual Budget for 2012

Our annual budget this year is $175,000.    There are no paid salaries in the United States, and expenditures in the U.S. represent only 2% of the budget and are funded privately.  100% of any donation goes directly to the educational programs in Haiti.  The Crosby Fund for Haitian Education is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization.  All contributions are fully tax deductible to the extent provided by law.

Newsletter: Fall/Winter ’08-’09

 

Some Information on the Secondary School System in Haiti

Many people ask questions about the secondary school system in Haiti, and so we hope that you will find some answers to your questions.

Are there public schools in Haiti?

Yes, there are, but very few in the Artibonite Valley where we work.  Most students go to private schools.  Unlike America, where the private schools are considered better educational institutions than public schools, Haitian private schools are not as good as the public schools.  The public schools are regulated by the government and generally have better teachers.

Public schools are not free, however, there are still fees for tuition, books, exams, and uniforms. The difference is that the tuition in a public school may be $25.00 a year and in a private school as much as $125.00 a year.  All other fees (books, uniforms, exams) are the same as private schools.  We currently have students in 24 different schools – 3 are public and 21 are private.

What about the curriculum?

All the schools, public and private, use one curriculum for each grade that is established by the Ministry of National Education in Port-au-Prince.  The curriculum includes a wide variety of subjects.  For example a sophomore in high school takes the following courses: French and Haitian Literature, English and Spanish languages, biology, algebra, and geography.   All schools use the same books and workbooks. This makes it easy for students to transfer to different schools.  It also makes it easy for our employees to buy the books that the students need for the year.  We simply need to know how many students we have for each grade.

The teachers use the “rote’ method of teaching.  This method of memorization is difficult for many students who have different learning styles.  Teachers are required to have a teacher’s certificate in order to teach. This is a two-year post secondary program offered by Teaching Schools.

What is the grading system?

Students are graded on a scale from 1 to 10 for every subject they take.  There is an overall grade for each semester which is an average of their subject grades.  If their average at the end of the year is 5.0 or better, they can move on to the next grade.  If it is below 5.0, they must repeat the grade.  Our minimum grade requirement is 6.0.  If they have an average of below 6.0, they are dismissed from our program, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

At the end of their sixth grade year, freshman year, senior year (Rheto) and Philo (a mandatory 13th year for university entrance), there is a state-administered exam that must be passed to go on to the next grade.  The Rheto and Philo exams are administered in Port-au-Prince and are expensive for the students to take.  Yet they cannot go on in school unless they take these exams and pass them.  They are allowed to take the exam a second time, without a charge.  If the student fails the second time, the grade must be repeated and at the end of the year, the exam retaken.  In our experience the most challenging exam is the Rheto (12th grade) exam.

Student Interviews

In August, we had the opportunity to sit down with several of our students and learn more about their lives, their challenges, and their dreams.  In this newsletter, we share with you some of our students’ experiences and hopes for the future.

Fednor Sidort: 26 years old, sophomore at the Universite Autonome de Port-au-Prince, majoring in Business Management.

Fednor comes from a very poor family with ten children — only 2 out of the 10 attended school.  His brother went as far as the 11th grade, but he had to drop out because there was no money to pay his tuition.  His parents earn a living by burning stones to make an insect repellent that is painted on houses.  Before he was accepted in the program three years ago, Fednor attended school intermittently depending on the money.  Being a scholarship student changed his life – now, he says, he has a future, and he hopes that he will be able to find a job after he graduates so he can support his family.

Going to school and living in Port-au-Prince is very difficult for him.  He rents a room for $385 a year, a fee that is almost impossible for him to pay.  Sometimes he uses his book money to pay the rent, and then he must borrow books from his classmates.  He is hungry a lot of the time, but he manages to buy one meal a day for $3.85.  For that modest amount he receives a small piece of meat, some rice, a tomato, and 2 bananas. A gallon of water costs an additional $1.00.  Traveling to and from school is another challenge. School is about a 2 hour walk from his room.  He could take a “tap-tap” (public transportation), but that would cost him $1.00 per trip, and he can’t afford the $8.00 a week expense.  So he wakes early and walks to school.

When we interviewed him, Fednor was on vacation from school and staying with his parents in Deschapelles.  He has been studying and volunteering in our office organizing books and preparing for September.  With all the challenges of life in Port-au-Prince, Fednor shares that it is all worth it.  He is so proud to be a university student!   He never thought that would be possible for him.

Delicier Dieuseul: 26 years old, 4th year medical student at the University Notre Dame of Port-au-Prince. Delicier was raised by his mother along with 3 other children.  He never knew his father, because he left Haiti for South America when Delicier was  a baby.  His mother has a little business selling basic foods such as flour, sugar, salt etc.  The mother has tried through the years to put all 4 of her children in school, but there were some years when it was not possible.  Delicier is the first person in his family to graduate from high school.

When I asked him about life in Port-au-Prince, he said it was difficult moving from the country to the city.  It took him one year to adjust.  City life was distracting and difficult to cope with all of the challenges.  Like Fednor, he rents a room for $385 a year.  He walks 45 minutes to the station and takes a ‘tap-tap’ to school for about 50 cents a day.  He finds medical school very challenging, but he is managing to keep up by studying all of the time.  Sometimes it is hard to study because the apartment has intermittent electricity and there are no lights to read. He thinks he wants to be a pediatrician, and he is very excited about his future.

Helene Clervious, 25 years old, 4th year medical student at the Quisqueya Universite in Port-au-Prince.

Helene was born in the mountains and lived there for the first 12 years of her life.  She moved to Deschapelles to live with her cousins in order to go to a better school.  Her parents eventually moved to Deschapelles, where they had a plot of land and grew coffee.  Like Fednor and Delicier, Helene says that she is the first person to make it this far in her education and she thanks the scholarship fund for that privilege. She said traveling to school is a real challenge.  After a 30 minute walk to the station, she rides for over an hour on the ‘tap-tap’ for $2.00 one way.  (The price of gasoline in Haiti is now over $6.00 a gallon.)  She wants to be a surgeon after medical school, and she hopes that she will be able to work at the Hopital Albert Schweitzer when she graduates.

 

Emmanuelson Saturne: 24 years old, 2008 graduate from high school, will attend the University in the Fall.  He will major in computer science.

Emmanuelson has lived in Borel, a section of Deschapelles, all of his life.  He and his mother live alone.  His father died when he was two years old in a car accident in New York City, where he was a taxi driver.  He had a brother, but he died several years ago.  His mother and he have always had a difficult time earning enough money to put him in school.  She has a little plot of land, where she cultivates rice, but the business has not been very profitable.  There were many years when she was not able to send him to school.

He is very excited about attending the University in the fall.  I asked about his living arrangements, and he shared with us that he has an uncle in Port-au-Prince who will rent him a room with electricity and a toilet for $250.00 a year.   Electricity and toilets are luxuries that are hard to come by in Haiti!

Manisse Aimable: 21 years old, 2008 graduate from high school, will attend nursing school in the fall.

Manisse has been in the program for over three years, and she is now very excited about nursing school in the fall. She is so thankful for the scholarship program because there were many years that she had to drop out of school for lack of funds.  During those years, she would study on her own and copy notes to try to catch up with the other students.  Sometimes after several months passed, the school would allow her to return, if she had the tuition money.

Born and raised in Petite Riviere, she is the second of seven children.  Her father works in the Dominican Republic as a mason, and he comes home once a year and brings money for the family.  He stays for about a week and then must return.  Her mother has a little business selling food products that she brings home from Port-au-Prince.  She is not sure yet where she will live in Port-au-Prince; she has no relatives living there.  She is the first person in her family to ever graduate from high school and go to the university.  Her brothers only reached the 7th grade.